So, confession time. I’m not really eating “keto” anymore. While I whole heartedly agree with the benefits of a ketogenic diet, being so strict wasn’t really working for me. You see, I’ve done a lot of work over the years trying to be less restrictive and less “black and white” and “one size fits all” when it comes to food. And, as I learned as a Nutritional Therapist, I think a variety of diets can be healthy for a variety of people. Not everyone feels their best eating one particular way. And so while I learned a lot of great lessons from eating keto, and a lot that I will still incorporate, I’m going to move back towards my “real food” approach and not put as many labels on what I eat.
I had some pretty cool benefits eating a really high fat/ low carb diet. I didn’t feel hungry very often and I could go long stretches of time without feeling like I needed to eat. That was fun and all, but I was really doing keto for hormone balance. And really, while hormone balance is definitely affected by the foods you eat and can be thrown off by eating too much sugar/ processed foods and not enough good healthy fat and protein, hormone imbalance also comes from stress.
And so I found that I was often stressed about what to eat. I would get into ketosis, but had a really tough time staying in it, and I felt like I really didn’t have much wiggle room if I wanted to stay in it. So, for example, I could get in to ketosis one day, but the next day just have a liiiiiittle too many carbs (in the forms of berries, avocado, dark chocolate, etc.) and then I would be thrown out of ketosis. But I still felt really good! So really, it was just this obsession with the number on the ketone meter that was throwing me off. I felt good whether I was at a .7 (technically in ketosis which is .5 and above) or if I was at a .3, but since I have a type A, goal oriented personality, as soon as I saw a .3 I “failed” and then spent all this time figuring out what I did wrong.
I also realized this wasn’t the best plan for me when I found myself really wanting an apple, but told myself I couldn’t have it because it had “too many carbs”. Nope. I am so not about restricting food, especially good, healthy food. Or even something like a cupcake. If I really want a cupcake, I’m going to eat the cupcake. But panicking that I was going to get knocked out of ketosis just wasn’t fun.
I also found myself craving more carbs. Nothing excessive, but I just wanted to be able to have a sweet potato with dinner or a banana as a snack with almond butter. And sometimes, I just didn’t want to eat tons of fat instead of these carbs. I felt like I was making myself add all this fat, even if I didn’t particularly want it, to try and get full when really having some rice or a sweet potato would have done the trick.
Am I glad I tried keto? Absolutely. A lot of my meals look different now and my obsession with healthy fats still continues, but I also know that my body responds just fine to eating some additional carbs. The sugar dragon doesn’t come out if I have some banana or rice; I’m able to eat it and just move on. And I like being able to have that balance as it puts less stress on me. It makes it easier to go out to eat with friends and also make balanced meals for me and my husband.
I think keto can be a really beneficial experiment. For some people, there are AMAZING results and so I think you should definitely try it out if you are wondering how it will work for you, especially if you are battling with an illness like a neurological disease or Diabetes. And if you end up not loving it, no big deal, you can start to re-adjust your macros a bit to get back to a place that works well for YOUR body.